PHILADELPHIA - Natalie Capuano, who recently graduated from Penn and enjoyeda standout career with the Quaker women’s soccer team, has decided to continue her playing career. With that in mind, she recently moved to Finland to begin her professional career.
The three-time first-team All-Ivy pick, this year’s recipient of the University’s Association of Alumnae Fathers’ Trophy as the outstanding senior female student-athlete, recently updated us on her adventures in Europe...
I left on the 26th of May and arrived in Finland on the 27th. The manager and one of the girls on the team picked me up from the airport and drove me to the home where I'll be staying until October. I'm living in a small town called Tuusula with a family of 5 (Mom, Dad, and three girls). It's a really nice house, and the family is also very nice.
The home is on a lake, and there's a huge backyard which is really nice. They have a sauna in their basement, which I thought was incredible but apparently almost everyone in Finland has a sauna in their home. I'm figuring out that saunas are a huge part of the Finnish culture.
As far as adjusting to the time change, I'm still struggling a little bit. The first day I slept completely according to East Coast time, but I'm getting better. I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, but it's not as bad as it was the first few nights here. The food is not too different from what we have at home.
There is a McDonald's here, which so far is the only American chain I've seen. No Starbucks or anything like that. Dinner is eaten really late here...probably around 9.
I've been learning some other things about Finland that are pretty interesting and definitely good to know. For example, I went out driving with my host Mom for the first time while I was here and she was very insistent that I go exactly the speed limit. She seemed almost nervous about it, especially if I went a few kilometers over. So I asked her if the speeding tickets were very expensive here or if there was some type of harsh punishment for receiving one, and she told me that in Finland if you get a speeding ticket, the fine you have to pay completely depends on your income. She told me that the most expensive ticket anyone ever had to pay was over 100,000 euros! Just for speeding!! Crazy, but good to know.
As for the soccer aspect of Finland, I'm playing for a team called PK-35. I really like the girls on the team, and so far we have a record of 6-1. Since I've been here, we've played four games and won them all.
In the first game, I sat the first half and watched to try to get a feel for the game and how it was being played. I started the second half, and I felt like it didn't take me too long to get into it. It had been awhile since I had played in a real game, so it just felt really good to get out there and play. Our team won that game, and I registered my first assist.
At the end of the game, I learned that a player of the game is selected from each team, and they get some type of prize or a gift from the home team. In the next three games, I started as one of the two center mids and was named player of the game. In my third game, I scored my first goal.
My role on this team is somewhat different than it was at Penn. While of course I'm still trying to win every ball in the midfield and protect the back four, the coaches have been encouraging me to be creative and take players on. I've been taking corners and even a few set pieces. I feel like I'm in an atmosphere that is allowing me to improve my technique and attacking skills. Our coach has extra sessions focusing on shooting and just on our technique in general, so I've been going to those and really working hard to learn and become a better player.
We now have a mid-summer break that lasts until July 5. I've decided to go to Italy for 10 days during the break, which I'm really excited about. All in all, everything has been going pretty well. The people are nice, I really like my team and Finland is a beautiful country. So far, it's been quite the experience.